Book Review: The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

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I’m quite late to the party (in fact, if you know me well, you’d know I am late to everything) when it comes to Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha series. In fact, I actually read Six of Crows first before realizing she actually had three books out about the Grisha and Ravka before SoC! So of course I had to get my hands on the Grisha Trilogy quick-smart.

Leigh Bardugo knows how to write a page-turner, that’s for sure. I pretty much devoured all three books in the space of a week, actually forcing myself to stop reading at times so I could make the read last longer!

The Grisha Trilogy delves more intimately into the world of the Grisha, human beings with magical abilities, and particularly of war-torn Ravka, which is pretty much an alternate Russia. The heroine, Alina, is an orphan and a soldier – well, a mapmaker in the Ravka army – and is a pretty mousy sort of person who is in love with her fellow orphan and best friend Mal, a handsome tracker who seems to have forgotten all about her. But when Alina and Mal are attacked while attempting to cross the Fold, a sea of darkness that exists in Ravka and is the home of the demonic Volcra, Alina discovers she is actually a Grisha with the power to summon light. Which makes her the Sun Summoner, a powerful and unusual Grisha, and perfect companion to the Darkling, an ancient and powerful Grisha summoner whose power is, you guess it, the ability to summon darkness.

The Grisha Trilogy offers up the same sort of delicious romance Bardugo is just so gosh darn good at. But there’s also more – there’s danger and war, a foolish king and petty nobles and also a very creepy priest who is determined to make Alina a saint. I adore all the characters – well, apart from the creepy priest and king. Each character has their own flaws and loveableness, even the Darkling. While it took me some time to start liking Mal, he eventually did start to come into his own, as did Alina. And I love the banter that’s thrown around between the characters, which is funny and charming without being too silly or immature. (Unfortunately, that was the one of the things that really threw me off about Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. I mean, I get it’s YA and Zuzana is a real cutie and yes, the characters are essentially teenage girls talking about cake and chocolate in order to lighten up their dire situation, but still… it was definitely jarring for me).

The first book, Shadow and Bone, caught me up right away and had me flipping the pages as fast as I could in order to finish it. The second book, Siege and Storm, was a little draggy as Alina struggles to find her feet and to be the heroine she’s meant to be. Thankfully the Ravkan prince, Nikolai Lantsov, was there to make things more interesting – and I have to say he is by far my favourite character in this series! Anytime Nikolai’s there, you know things are going to be fun – he’s always scheming, inventing, strategizing or throwing out funny comments. I definitely think he needs to have a book all to himself!

Things really start going again in the third book, Ruin and Rising, and I love how everything finally starts to come together, especially the bond that forms around Alina and her little ragtag group of Grisha. I love the camaraderie between them, which is the same sort of camaraderie that occurs between the SoC crew which made the book just so fun to read. And I finally start to enjoy Alina’s journey from hapless orphan to saint – about time! – which felt very much like an authentic hero’s journey.

All in all, Leigh Bardugo has definitely cemented her place as one of my favourite authors and I am very much looking forward to her next book, Crooked Kingdom, and all the other books to come after that. I’ll definitely be pulling out my wallet anytime a Bardugo book comes out, thank you very much!

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